Summer Days

I relish days like today, with the studio bathed in late afternoon summer sunlight.

Butterflies visit purple Russian sage outside the studio window, and gold finches feed on little yellow buttercups. Every once in a while, a lovely breezes catches the wind chimes delivering a scent of lavender.

We used to call them lazy summer days. Remember those? enjoying an iced tea on the deck, puttering in the garden, going barefoot all .. day…. long. Quiet nature walks after work or supper on the patio. Weekends visiting art fairs and beaches, long bike or paddling excursions. Exploring and actually taking time to soak it all in.

When is the last time you heard someone announce ‘embracing a lazy day’ on an outdoor hammock with a good book? 

The recent phrase ‘ I’m busy’, is so common it’s been written in song. “Wildflowers” by Matthew Szlachetka reminds us “Busy. We’re all so busy, We forget to take a look around.” 

Megan Wycklendt of the Washington Post writes “Six reasons you’d be happier if you stopped saying busy”. Her article was published in 2015, I wonder how much progress we have made?

Gary Burnison says successful people don’t say ‘busy’, reporting being specifically honest with responses is key. As Megan wrote’ busy’ is not ‘a feeling’. Nor is it an activity.

Professional Artists cope with deadlines, multi tasking, media, inventory, books, interviews, social media, while fielding emails, calls, texts from dealers and clients, on top of creating original work on a consistent basis. The pressure to produce work and self employed running a business can easily be overwhelming.  It’s easy for us to be pulled into the ‘busy’ realm of response.

Last month, wandering down to view a brilliant lakeside sunset, I spontaneously stopped in at a fellow artists studio.

I knew he would be watching the sky, heading out soon with his camera in tow. It had been months since I had been in the area, so it makes sense his first question was ,”Hey Dawn, how is work? are you busy?”

Well, yes, I said, things had been going well, new projects, new clients,” His next comment had me laughing out loud. “Well, is that just busy work, or is it inspired work? because those are two different things completely.”

I agreed.

Here’s hoping you all have some lazy summer days amid the chaos. That you have the patience & time to watch a spider build a web,( even a small one) or watch a sky unfold into a beautiful summer sunset. 

That you sit a spell on a rock, amid natural ferns and listen to the trickle of a waterfall. No electronics, or rushed commitments, just you, the sky overhead, earth beneath and forest surrounding you. 

You may not even open the book. 

~

Brian, most thankfully, it’s inspired work.

~

NEW work!!

  • “Northern Waterfall 30×40 oil $2,970.oo
  • “Sunlit Clouds” 18×24 oil $1,210.oo

Embracing Change

~ Life is ten percent what happens to you, and ninety percent how you respond to it. ~ Lou Holtz

How do you feel about change?

New years resolutions usually involve some kind of self improvement change, how are yours coming along?

Even if its for the benefit of health, relationships, dwelling, work, or community, change can be challenging. A friend in health care divulged “People don’t change, even when circumstances can be dire.” 

Why does humanity resist change? why is it so hard to make changes, and how do we overcome? How do we light the fire, face the fear, and begin?

In part, it comes down to habits.

“Half the time you are awake is spent with automatic behaviours: in other words, Niklas Goke writes “ You spend 1 out of every 2 minutes doing something you aren’t even aware of.”  “Habits Matter.”  He says change is about energy consumption, and changing one keystone habit can have a beneficial domino effect.

“Why facts don’t change our minds” the logic of staying with false beliefs when presented with truth, James Clear states is also a tribal thing.

The obvious we may neglect to realize, “Change is unavoidable” writes Jeffery James, highlighting benefits of change here.

What about when change is unbidden, unexpected and terrifying?

“With life and death on the line, survivors “Perceive and Believe,” writes Eric Barker: they “immediately begin to recognize, acknowledge, and even accept the reality of their situation… They move through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance very rapidly. 

“Survivors take great joy from even their smallest successes. That is an important step in creating an ongoing feeling of motivation and preventing the descent into hopelessness. It also provides relief from the unspeakable stress of a true survival situation.”

Gold nugget wisdom. Implementing change, unexpected or desired is about being conscious of habits, energy expenditure, facing the obvious, and wanting to be part of the group. Facing huge shake ups, lives can depend on perceiving the situation quickly and reacting appropriately. 

Celebrate small success’s in the journey. 

In addition, my thoughts why we may reject healthy change and how to implement positive transformation.

1.  The word ‘change.’ , Lose it.

Language, externally and internally can be ohhh sooo powerful. Whether in self assessment or professionals are verbalizing :

“CHANGE:  your habits, job, relationship, weight, fitness, artistic style, attire, . etc”… suggests, rather critically, you’ve failed. Whatever you are doing isn’t working or positive, and well. stop it. right now.  Super pumped about turning a new leaf? or overwhelmed, self berating?

This can lead to the path of denial drawing people like zombies, turning to the comfort of bad habits and questionable beliefs, like ‘smoking might be good for me.’

2. Lose the word change, and implement positive emotional connection.  “How do you feel about…:

  • “Evolving your style? stretching your reach in your work?”
  • “New opportunities?” 
  • “Working for a company whose vision is aligned with yours?
  • “Embracing your innovative entrepreneurial spirit and opening your own company?
  • “Introducing a new fun fitness regime? ”
  • “Meeting someone new who values you?”
  • “Adding daily nutrient dense meals that will satisfy your cravings?”
*Note, the word change becomes: transformation, growth, life additions, evolution, embrace, vision, satisfaction, value, quality, freedom, opportunity. 

With emotional investment involved, the more we connect, and the more motivated we can be. Change can be less about losing and all about gaining. Revisit and write down positive words daily that describe your vision, associate them with your beginnings.

3. Be Real.

After failing at fad diets and disliking exercise, she decided to just live it up and indulge in life.. even if it meant shortening it. The health magazine expert suggested she write a letter to her grandchildren explaining why she will no longer be around. 

Harsh, yes. Effective? possibly.

What truths do we tell ourselves? Be honest about why these changes matter. You may not want to write future grandkids, but making notes & revisiting your ‘why’ can keep you on track.

4. Enlist the pro’s.

 Research action plans and enlist professionals. Recruit your tribe. Art dealers, mentors, business professionals, Doctors, fitness trainers, accountability to a running or weight watcher buddy, family, support centres, etc. 

Be open to professional advice, not meant to criticize, but to help. Letting go of the immediate defensive mechanism, we can learn so much and recognize their gift.

Here is to new beginnings, and friends, ..EVERY DAY is New Years.

~PS: After applying at a reputable gallery when first moving to Ontario, the owner agreed to review my portfolio and conduct an interview. His comments were unlike any I had encountered in my art career:

  • “How committed are you?” 
  • “You have a high stress office job, you need to change that. A less stressful day job frees your energy for creating. You work in acrylic, I would like to see what you can do in oil instead.”

I could have left to not return, feeling slightly criticized and rejected. Instead, I recognized an experts wisdom from working in the field for decades. He understood art, the market, and his clientele. 

I bought oil paints on the way home, mucking them up for a good year before I even had an inkling of how to use them.  I left my office job to work in a brewery, canning beer by hand. Although the smell was really bad, the stress wasn’t.

A year or so later, I unveiled my first oil painting collection ever at Farmhouse Pottery. 

It was an unexpected success. Later, a second show, even more so. At the end of the exhibit, the owner & I sat alone with a celebratory beverage. “And.. “ he announced, smiling, “they will call you an overnight success! “ his grin exploding into an infectious deep belly laugh.

Thanks Al, always. 

~“ The function of art is to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The artist shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see it anew.” Anais Nin

~ Be the change you wish to see in the world. ~

NEW WORK:

  • “Canoe” 18×36 oil ~ $2000.oo
  • “Brilliant Sun” 24×36 oil~ $2,390.oo
  • “Tree” 24×36 oil~ $2,390.oo

Life Inspired

“She doesn’t come here to paint, she comes to throw rocks around at her Dad’s.” ~ cafe patron.

A painting hiatus to visit family and work on my Dad’s landscaping are joyfully necessary to keep my creative juices flowing. 

Inspiration is the fuel of motivation, feeding everyone, regardless of occupation or circumstance. It’s the fire within which drives motivation to act. Whether it be pick up a brush,  get off the couch, implement a healthy goal or design a business plan. 

Motivation to act on your dreams/ goals begins with the spark of inspiration.

Inspiration is often viewed as external such as: ‘a beautiful sunset inspires an artist to paint.’ Yet, if an artist isn’t emotionally invested, the painting will fail to connect the viewer, and its likely the brush won’t be picked up at all. 

Inspiration is internal, it’s all about emotional connection. Love is at the core, and that incredible feeling is transferable to all you wish to pursue. 

For or me it’s often not direct, a conversation with my nephew will inspire me to pick up the brush as much as walking in nature. 

Understand what lights you up, tapping into it to fuel your pursuits is a skill you can develop. 

Inspiration fuels intrinsic motivation, and this sense of internal purpose keeps one on track for the long run.

And my friend, a careerin art is so much about endurance to stay the course, despite criticism, negative judgement, business overwhelm, financial stress, etc.

Maintaining creative flow may not require adding more artistic pursuits such as workshops, field studies, studio work, art talks, collaboration with colleagues, videos, creative books, etc.

It can be beneficial to subtract activity…. like all of the above.

  • Immerse not in work, but in nature. 
  • Study not subject matter, but people, a new language, happenings upon in your daily wanderings.
  • Listen not to podcasts but songbirds.
  • Disconnect from technology, instead connect with family, friends, the earth.
  • Challenge yourself not in brush but exercise techniques. 
  • Wander favourite trails without camera, notepad, book, music or sketchbook. Capture it all in full attention with your heart.

And once in awhile… among colourful abundance of flowers and dragonflies , throw some rocks around in the garden.~

New Work:

  • Killarney ~ 8×10 oil on board ~ $500.oo
  • Storm passing ~ 18×24 oil on canvas ~ $1,210.oo

When in the business of inspiration, it’s best to find inspiration in everything. Therefore, its easy to get to work.~ Dawn

Photos above: Garden, with Dad, in the studio this week prepping boards and new work.

Seeking Truth

It began with a Sasquatch.

In the early 70’s stories of the forest creature flourished when Roger Patterson’s 1967 Sasquatch film reached the masses.

The park where we lived was a perfect setting for tales of ‘sightings’ to go viral among campers. 

My Dad applied logic to comfort my fears  “There would be scat, skeletal remains, evidence if they existed’. I was unconvinced… because, well, there were pictures. Isn’t that evidence enough?

Living in a vast wilderness, home to all kinds of creatures was a part of our daily life. 

To a six year old, it made sense to believe Bigfoot wandered among them, and Roger’s photo haunted me.

One sleepless night, standing on my bed to see out my window, I  worried, was it stalking us? Hearing my tearful whimpers, my brother quietly entered my room dressed in flannel Charlie Brown pjs. Climbing up, he peered out alongside me. 

Gazing at the inky black moonless night, I whispered my fears. He agreed, “Yes, he could be out there. I feel sorry for him.”

Sorry?? 

“He is alone in the dark. People are afraid of him and don’t like him. He probably would like to have a friend. He must be really lonely.” I mentioned the scary photo.

Beyond the wisdom of a 7 year old, he replied “Is he chasing, or running away? afraid? We don’t really know.” From that day since, I make a conscious effort to not be drawn into ignorant assumptions. Besides, if fretting about a mythical creature, why not believe he is one of the good guys? 

Assumptions without truth can dangerously lead us on a merry mind chase. How we perceive events and others is a choice. Look at face value, or consider possibilities. Seek truth.

Dismissing stereotypes, approaching people and situations with a positive open mind may release unnecessary stress and the negative tizzy we get ourselves into. Even if we don’t know the whole story, shedding positive light widens perspective.

The art world is a commonplace for myths to circulate, and yet, art can offer a world of hope. Art is universal, can increase tolerance and sharpen critical thinking in the viewer.

When we stop judging, we don’t just become open to possibility, we free ourselves.

“Art is about paying attention.” Laurie Anderson

I shut my eyes in order to see,” Paul Gauguin 

One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind.” Alphonse Bertillon

Click on blue highlights for clarification on: Art  ,  Art in dwellings, Buying Art,  Colour,   Artist Mantra

All living artists are broke, struggle to make a living” ~Living Artist Jeff Koons’ net worth is 200 million.

NEW Work:

“Sunflower” 16×20 $1,030.oo

Morning Sunlight” 11×14 $700.oo

Photos: My brother & I, Moose Mnt Park, The Beast~ Manitou beach SK, artist unknown.~ Dawn & deer.

The Outdoorsman

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.“ Rachel Carson 

His love of northern forests, pristine lakes, wildlife and quiet spaces drew him to a career in Parks. 

In those days the job was physically demanding requiring self sufficiency. Perfect for an athletic person comfortable being alone in the wilderness.

“Note the distinct difference of pine and spruce. Now draw them,” Dad instructed as we wandered northern boreal forest. Happy to be with my Dad in the park, surrounded by the scent of pine, I dutifully turned to my paper.

I don’t remember the detailed lessons of pine & spruce he taught that day when I was a child. But I do recall the spread of his wide shoulders under his kaki shirt swooping down to scoop a pine cone in his calloused hand. I remember the timber of his gentle voice and the easy manner of which he walked. I remember that moment so clearly, my love for him shining in my heart as it does today. Sharing shyness and a love of wilderness, we walked to the sound of chickadees in the bright summer sun.

He is a man of few words, who stands by them. Never to offend, always in respect and kindness. A leader by example. Not once have I heard him raise his voice. Never. Not in anger, fear, or celebration.

He fought forest fires and injustice, broken trail and found lost hunters. He tracked, tended wounded wildlife, and worked undercover to catch poachers. He spent recreational time playing music, sharing it with others. At 86, he still does. 

He can still hear the soft call of a crane over forest & village chatter, and is attentive of wildlife migrations. Mom would say, “you can take the guy out the park, but never the park out of the guy.”

Dad’s sensible teachings translate to the work I do, and how I live my life.

When I was 14, Dad proposed a one-time weekend job cleaning the forest fire crew’s quarters. ( paid from his pocket.) Approaching the empty bunkhouse, he said. “Remember, for the summer, this is their home. Do not judge how they live, or them.” 

My duties, he explained, were to clean, mop and scrub every room, surface, floor, fixture, appliance, including the communal bathroom.  It took two full days and need to develop a strong constitution for offensive odours.

Nearing the end of my task, while transforming bathroom ‘appliances’ to their original colour, Dad arrived to check on my progress. Leaning on the doorframe he gently inquired. “Did you clean underneath the urinals, wall behind, plumbing hardware ?” I looked at him in slight horror.  “Dad, these guys won’t know if I cleaned under the bowl.”

“You are absolutely right…. but you will.” He continued, “Never forget your name goes to every job and everything you do in life. Your name. Your accountability. It doesn’t matter if they notice any of it. You know and that’s what counts.”

As teenagers, Dad didn’t want us to apply for summer park jobs. “It won’t matter if it’s a fair hire, getting the job on your own. You will be treated differently, by staff and fellow workers. You will be seen as the kids who might have had an easy ‘in.’ You don’t want to be those kids, and I don’t want you to be either.”

A few years ago, in preparation for a wilderness journey, I sought his advice.Thou I grew up in nature, I hadn’t tackled anything quite like the expedition I was about to embark on.  Traveling fully self supported in remote wilderness with 5 strangers was a little daunting.  

I wondered if he would suggest what to pack, portaging or paddling skills, safety tips; yet, it wasn’t surprising his advice involved none of the above.“Do you trust your guides and have faith in your abilities? if you don’t, you shouldn’t be going.”He said.

When you think about it, if you don’t apply due diligence or believe in your skills, it doesn’t matter what you pack. Isn’t this true about so many things in life? 

Thou some families aren’t supportive of an art career, my parents have been my biggest champions. They attended nearly every exhibit and bought my work at full price thru the gallery. When I said I would have given them the painting, they were equally horrified. “This is what you do.” said Dad. “If you sold cars for a living would you give them away? It’s your work, and we are pleased to collect it. ” Mom added.

It was an honour to have Dad attend my recent exhibit in Saskatchewan. When a massive snowstorm arrived opening day, I said “Don’t worry, even if no one shows up, we will still celebrate.” Dad replied with a smile, “Yes. You have already done your job. You dreamt of showing here and you’re here, now, aren’t you?”

To the easy- to- hug, ever kind, steadfast man who gave us a life surrounded by nature and support, my Dad, Happy Father’s Day. Thank you so much for always being there for us, for your generosity, gentle honest guidance and deeply enduring love. 

~

Art :

“The Stand” 14×18 Original oil $910.oo

“Creek” 5×7 original oil $350.oo

“Sunset” 11×14 in progress

Unveiling Potential

“The more the marble wastes the more the statue grows.” Michelangelo

It can be super motivating jumping aboard the self improvement train these days. Embracing growth, improve skill sets, reduce bad habits and seeking joy can be a positive track to discovery.

If not mindful, this journey could become a freight train of constant self judgement, comparison risks and relentless desire  for impossible goals of perfection. Art & humanity are naturally, beautifully flawed. A fact, at times forgotten or linked to shame. 

When that happens, positive vibes no longer fuel learning fulfillment. Instead, energy depletes, disrupts and hinders progress. Its a no-win situation of push pull ; wanting to improve combined with severe self criticism.

Artists may experience this within ( art is life long continuous learning skill) and externally. People often value art more if it looks like something they have seen before. “… paint like Van Gogh and you will be onto something. ” “ Realism is the only mastery.” Fans express opinions of the art, how the artist should look, or behave. “You need to dress like an artist and brood. Artists are usually moody, right?” 

You may have encountered similar circumstance of negative peer pressure, unrealistic demands set by others, or yourselves. The acceleration to be more, driving what makes you special, away. 

The wonderful reality is, you are unique from anyone in the world, and this is to be celebrated along a path to evolvement.

As the wise Dr. Seuss wrote: 

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!….

You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!

( excerpts from “Oh the Places You’ll Go” )

Possibilities are indeed endless. 

Use Michelangelo’s theory with the idea you are both sculptor and marble. Amazing potential, knowledge and greatness already lie dormant within. You just need to set it free.

Let go of what does not serve you, and your shining authentic self emerges. “The more the marble wastes, the more the statue grows.”

~

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” ~Anna Quindlen

 “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”Michelangelo

“You’ll miss the best things if your eyes are shut.” Dr Seuss

Artwork~

“Psyche & Cupid” pencil drawing 1986 ~ Dawn Banning

Sunset over Homestead (barn) 11×14 oil $660.oo

The Beast- wood sculpture Manitou Beach, artist unknown.( photo Dawn Banning).

Mountain 4ftx3ft oil $4,345.oo

Blue Skies 4ftx2ft oil $3960.oo

Roses 14×18 oil $910.oo

Visualization

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Albert Einstein.

In the romantic comedy “French Kiss” Meg Ryan’s character is instructed to visualize her happy place to overcome her fear of flying. Breathing deeply she brings to mind an image of a lovely little stone garden cottage.

At the end of the movie( spoiler alert!) she discovers a new dwelling, which just happens to be a stone cottage in a beautiful valley vineyard.

The 1995 film isn’t about manifesting reality, rather turning the idea of destiny on its head. The film was created long before Rhonda Byrne’s best selling book “The Secret” that induced mass popularity of ‘the law of attraction’ was published. Yet, in an indirect way, that’s exactly what Meg Ryan’s character did. 

Visualization techniques are successfully applied in sport, weight loss, business, goal setting, even medical science. ( click on highlighted words for further reading in each category.) 

My brilliant physiotherapist friend discusses her training with me. She says “We thought patient activity during treatment was fairly passive. We would treat, manipulate, etc, send them home with exercises. We are discovering a key to success is for the patient to create a mind body connection. By having them visualize correct body movements during treatment, or specifying where the body needs to be active, we see immediate different in body function, sometimes, with no or very little manipulation from us. It’s remarkable.”  

She says her biggest challenge in this method is many people don’t know how to visualize. We discuss props, visual aids etc to assist patients.

It isn’t necessary to be an artist to learn and perfect this skill.The act of visualization is a form of directed energy. We can use this tool in a variety of positive ways individually and collectively. 

Jack Canfield shares a step by step process how to visualize desired outcomes. Thou his ‘mental rehearsal’ technique is a little abstract for me, the article delves into benefits of visualization, and further easy practical advice. 

A weight loss study by researcher Dr. Linda Solbrig from the School of Psychology showed significant weight loss without dietary advice using Functional Imagery Training. “Overweight people who used a new motivational intervention called Functional Imagery Training (FIT) lost an average of five times more weight than those using talking therapy alone.

In addition, users of FIT lost 1.6 more inches (4.3cm) around their waist circumference in six months – and continued to lose weight after the intervention had finished…The study showed how – after six months – people who used the FIT intervention lost an average of 9 pounds (4.11kg), compared with an average of 1.6 pounds (0.74kg) among the MI group…..

“It’s fantastic that people lost significantly more weight on this intervention, as, unlike most studies, it provided no diet/physical activity advice or education. People were completely free in their choices and supported in what they wanted to do, not what a regimen prescribed,” said Dr. Linda Solbrig…”

As well as sport, business, innovation, and health, visualization can be used effectively in communication. Picture a challenging conversation with a positive outcome. See the other party and yourself smiling. Focus on specific positive words that apply to the situation before your meeting like ‘cohesive, inspired, adaptable, success, integrity, authentic, collaborate, connectedness, happiness,” etc.

“To bring anything into your life, imagine that it’s already there.” Richard Bach

Whatever category visualization is directed there are common ‘how-to’ similarities:

1. Details: think up as many details are you can, be very specific on the outcome. Props like vision boards, collages, text magnets on fridge, etc can be very helpful. 

2. Bring in all your senses, how you feel, smell, see, hear, the environment surrounding your event/ outcome. 

3. Believe. Believe as thou it has already happened: picture yourself doing the activity, in the new job, completing the project, having lost the weight, on the vacation, etc.

4. Practice DAILY. This is key and where many fail to recognize the importance. Visualization practice is like a muscle you continually build and train. 

~New Years eve often brings a host of resolutions and visions of future possibilities. People may visualize how this new lifestyle/ goal will make them feel and perhaps see success in their minds. Once the plan is in place, Jan 2 arrives and they never visit the concept in their minds again. 

While getting in your workouts, visit the brain gym too.🙂

~

~“Create the highest grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” Oprah Winfrey.

“Your thoughts create reality. The most pragmatic way to create world peace is to use your power of visualization. Think Peace, Act Peace, Spread Peace, Imagine Peace. Your thoughts will soon cover the planet. The most important thing is to believe in your power. It works.” Yoko Ono.

P.S ~  Visualization is handy in painting, thou perhaps not in the way you may think. Visualizing the exact outcome of a painting can inhibit creativity and stall brushstrokes. Instead, mindfulness in the midst of subject matter helps mentally & emotionally ‘transport’ to the scene later on in the studio. Impressionism is about capturing experience of feeling. Ability to bring that energy to canvas & palette boosts success. 

ARTWORK~ available for purchase!

Lavender Farm 24×30 oil on canvas ~ $1,980.oo

Northern Sunset 8×10 oil on canvas ~ $500.oo

SKY 4ftx3ft oil on canvas ~ $4,345.oo

Nocturne Waterlilies ~ in progress ~ 24×36 oil on canvas

The Gardener

She was unaware the lens that filled with flowers now focused on her. 

My brother captured the fleeting moment so perfectly, a pink swath of morning light illuminating her, head bent surveying new buds saturated in colour. Her clothes blended her with sky and earth, holding her anchored and free.

I love to think of her this way, in her masterpiece, surrounded by wildflowers, immersed in the garden of her creation. Her feet firmly planted in the earth, strong hands capable of building rock walls and mending hurts. 

The builder, who had constructed their home on the hill above the lake, (a design by her brother & she) suggested an added garage may not be possible. She confidently disagreed, ‘oh it can be done.” Gathering a clean paper napkin at the restaurant table, she spontaneously drew & designed it to size. He joked later it was perhaps the first garage he built from a concept on a napkin. 

The self sustaining xeriscaping garden design and rock tiers were all in her head too. Each of us helped gather & place rocks with her instruction when we visited home. There was no lawn. ( Lawns are one the largest waste of our water on earth, she said.)

It was the best project she & Dad achieved together, she claimed with a grin “ I know I am supposed to say you two are, but it’s the garden. ”I couldn’t argue, it’s magnificent, and , after all, they had won Community in Bloom awards.

Joining her to help build the final wall was a gift. The two of us worked side by side in the quiet late afternoon light. By then unable to stand, she worked on her hands a knees, building the last third of the garden this way.  I can still see her rolling rocks along as she crawled in the dirt. Witnessing completion of a masterpiece that lives on. She knew it would. 

Over the years she trusted me to prune and help decide & replace plantings. “Come sit for an iced tea with me!” she would call from the deck above. We would sip our tea, barefeet stretched out in the warm in the summer sun. Hummingbirds visited the feeder close by while dragonflies hovered, often landing on us, and we’d laugh in delight. 

Perhaps she knew, one day, it would be me, alone in the garden, planting, rebuilding rock walls, pruning, finding treasures, while dragonflies fly near by.

Every once in awhile, I’ll pause to breathe and feel the swath of colourful skies above and bright palettes rising from the earth below.

~

Miss you so much Momma. Thank you for your inspiration, humour and friendship. You showed us the true meaning of courage, strength and kindness.

Thank you for the colours.

~ To all the Mom’s, Happy Mother’s Day.

NEW WORK~

The Gardener 18×24 oil on canvas- email to inquire

Wildflower series of 4 ,  each 5×7 oil on canvas ~ SOLD ( Commission)

Solar Dragonfly & friend 8×8 oil on canvas $450.oo

Tiny Dragons 5×7 oil on canvas $350.oo

Carnations6×8 oil on board $400.oo

Daily Work

“Wake up as an artist; be an artist each day. Do what is before you to do. Be still, open, and willing.” Aliye Cullu. 

I feel the strength of my Norwegian roots more apparently when hanging out with my Dad.

Along with ancestry and eye colour, I also inherited his love of routine.

Not to burst the fancy free artist image… in truth, I relish comfort of familiarity in daily regimes, a fondness for surprise only at the easel.

My Daily work habits are on many of your minds. 

  • 1. “Do you work only when you feel like it, you have to be inspired to work, right?”
  • 2.“Do you paint all the time, every day?” “ It’s your job to just paint, right?”
  • 3.“If you have a dog, may I rent it? your dog would be a happy dog. Very zen.”

~

1. When in the business of inspiration, it’s best to find inspiration in everything. 

Therefore, its easy to get to work.

2. Painting all day, every day, wouldn’t allow room for the business portion of my career, which would bring creating to a screeching halt. 

Ideally, a handful of ethical established dealers nationally & internationally promoting/selling the work would unburden me of some tasks. Until then its a daily balancing act between creating and business.

Conscious how much paint I am exposed to on a regular basis,  I also make an effort for activity balance for health & wellness, creation endurance and my longevity.

Art is my livelihood, as a business owner, daily structure depends on variety of work commitments. 

Every evening, I make a daily list of duties/ activities for the following day, maintaining separate lists for ongoing or future projects. Some projects are years in the making.

My work responsibilities include: 

  • Art creator
  • Art growth evolvement/ originality
  • Skill development
  • Subject research
  • Client communication/ correspondence 
  • Retail studio management
  • Proposal submissions/ applications ( Ie: Artist in Residences/ Art Installations, etc)
  • Presentations/ speaking engagements
  • International & national market research
  • Dealer/Collector research 
  • Commercial/ Clinic/ Corporate & Residential construction research
  • Entertainment studio prop contractor connections
  • Public relations
  • Dealer/ gallery negotiations 
  • Exhibit coordinator
  • Packaging & shipping/ logistics
  • Inventory manager
  • Supply runner
  • Tech department :website update: social media update
  • Blog writing & posting, advertising, billing, taxes, etc. 
  • Researching architects, designers, corporations that I want to work with, where my work would be a good fit. Establishing these relationships & sending proposals for future projects. 

  ~ When I am painting, other than ‘creator’ all of the above tasks need to disappear from my mind.~ 

That can be challenging when many things are pressing, my day almost always includes some of above duties. 

This is where routine and mindfulness come in handy. 

3. No dog, thou I grew up with one and loved her so. She was pretty zen. 

~“Get on a daily routine… Working is a process not a product. Success comes from the word, succeed: Latin: ‘to under go.’ You must keep moving.” Nicoletta Baumeister 

“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.” Shunryu Suzuki 

What’s one activity I do every day, no matter circumstance or location? Meditate.~ Dawn

NEW Work!

“Island Lake” 12×24 oil on canvas $1,030.oo

“Mountain Winter Sunrise” 14×24 oil on canvas $1,210.oo

Other Photos above: Studio/ Dad, Grampa’s flag & lefse/ my brother, Dad & I with our little dog, Tuff.

Free Solo

“I didn’t want to be a lucky climber, I wanted to be a great climber.” Alex Honnold.

The 2018 academy award winning documentary film Free Solo directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin features rock climber Alex Honnold in his quest to climb of El Capitan, Yosemite, ‘free solo’. ( alone, without aid of ropes or equipment.) 

The documentary also offers a rare glimpse & perspective of the film crew. All athletes & climbers themselves face physical, creative and morale challenges in the midst of their creative efforts to capture Alex’s climb.

One might assume those attempting death defying acts like Alex are without natural fear, perhaps driven by some inexplainable force.

Yet, Alex is not without fear. 

He thought about the climb for 8 years, saying it was ‘just too scary’.

Within intense training, he would choreograph each move up the 3,200 foot granite face. Every… single… body… movement.

Alex would train for 2 years, climb El Capitan 50 times with ropes, using what looked to be a large toothbrush to find indentations in the rock face.

His handwritten journals overflowed defining every single move, where each thumb would be placed,… thru the entire climb. 

He rappelled down the face days before climbing after a rain, making certain there were not wet spots where he might slip and making certain his chalk marks were still present.

The extra challenging route portions were climbed over and over again. Falling with the ropes, he would immediately review on site what went wrong, change a movement, practice practice practice. 

Preparations to this degree aren’t accomplished by someone with a death wish. 

This is mastery. 

Honnold free soloed Yosemite’s Half Dome in September 2008 with nothing like the preparations he made for El Capitan. “I didn’t really know how to prepare for a potential free solo, so I decided to skip the preparations and just go up there and have an adventure. I figured I would rise to the occasion, which, unsurprisingly, was not the best strategy.” Honnold said in an April 2018 Ted Talk. 

On a giant, slightly – less- than- vertical slab near the summit, he came close to falling. Although he completed the climb, it was not the experience he wanted. “ I was disappointed in my performance because I had gotten away with something,” he said. “ I didn’t want to be a lucky climber. I wanted to great climber.”

The climb of El Capitan took him 3 hours and 56 min.

~

While researching this post, I discovered European American artist Hermann Ottomar Herzog  traveled to & painted El Captian in 1873. His beautiful golden renditions of the area are still in circulation today, found on pillows, wall art, prints, beachtowels & free wallpaper.

It’s the first time I have tackled my own rendition of a Master’s work. 

To make certain it wasn’t about ‘copying’, I didn’t allow myself to wear glasses, his image a  fuzzy mass of shapes on my laptop. My own canvas became a blurry application of colour & texture. Out of my comfort zone, it was equal parts scary & freeing.

I chose a horizontal closer cropped composition, using large brushes and mostly guess work with colour. ( no glasses restricts me from seeing colour detail) Working quickly I gave myself a time limit, so the work would have a plein air feel. I didn’t look at the final piece until I returned with my camera. 

Thanks for the inspiration Hermann, indirectly encouraging me to try something new, solo and free.

~ NEW Work~

“Sunday Sunset” ( Sunset Drive) 14×18 oil $910.oo

“Hermann’s El Capitan Sentinel” 24×36 oil ~ email me for availability.